Ideas And Activities For Pre-Scissor Skills And Scissor Practice

Scissor practice and fine motor development using various materials can be so much fun (if you make it that way, that is)!

As with any skill, one must have the proper foundation to be able to successfully perform the desired task; in this case, we are talking about scissor practice or "pre-scissor" skills. Below, you will find some fun, inexpensive, practical, everyday, fine motor and hand strengthening activities you can use with your toddler to get them ready for being able to successfully use scissors properly. 

The development of these skills is the most important idea here...successful scissor practice and use is really the outcome. Believe it or not, it is a key developmental fine motor skill which children NEED to have! 

Pre-scissor Skills And Scissor Practice Activities:

  • Give the children some type of tongs or tweezers. Show them how to pick up various objects such as cotton balls, playdough, marshmallows, small blocks, etc. with the tongs or tweezers. This activity works on the concept of opening and closing as you would with scissors. You can have them race to see who can fill a cup the fastest.

  • Allow the children to have the opportunity to play with squirt guns, turkey basters, water bottles, spray bottles, squirt toys, etc. Show them how to squeeze and release to make water come out. You can do this outdoors or paint the pavement, walls, sidewalks etc. (or put food coloring in the water and paint the snow). This activity works on the concept of opening and closing their hands for scissors as well as helps to strengthen them.


  • As a tabletop activity, use water or clean medicine droppers. Mix water and a few drops of food coloring in containers. Have children use the droppers with the colored water to create a picture on paper towels, tissue paper, coffee filters, etc. This works on the concept of opening and closing their hands for scissors as well as helps strengthen them.


  • Make confetti!! Using single hole punches or hole punches that make different shapes (stars, hearts, etc.). This will help children strengthen their hands, work on the open/close concept, and builds hand strength.


  • At circle time, sing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" or "Open Shut Them". Having the children open and close their fingers to work on the open/close concept as is needed for scissor practice.


  • Tear pieces of paper to create a picture with torn paper. Tearing paper teaches them how to use two hands together.


  • If you have animal reachers, show them how to pick up objects and place them in a container. You can get these in different catalogs, animal attractions (such as a zoo, aquarium, etc), and at various other stores.


  • Have the children use clothespins to hang pictures. This works on the concept of squeezing and releasing.


  • Allow the children to use wind up toys. This activity uses one hand to hold and one hand to do. This is the same concept needed later for scissors, one hand to cut and the other to hold the paper.


  • When playing with playdough, give the children garlic presses to make spaghetti. This will help strengthen their hands for scissor use.


  • Try specific children's scissors, such as the animal scissors below, or Crayola scissors; these are made for younger children and tend to be easier for them to use. Of course, all scissor practice and scissor activities should be carefully and directly supervised.


  • During actual scissor practice, (i.e., cutting activities), encourage the children to cut with "thumbs up". The child should not be holding their thumb toward the floor while cutting.


  • At first, it may be hard for the child to maneuver both the paper and the scissors at the same time. Try helping them by holding their hand on the paper for them while they get scissor practice by snipping with the scissors. However, don't encourage them to use tow hands to maneuver the scissors; this does not help them develop the appropriate skills.


  • Have the children snip around the edge of a green paper to make grass for a jungle or farm. This step comes before cutting across a whole page.


  • Try gluing pieces of thin cardboard to either side of a piece of construction paper, leaving about an inch or two of space down the middle. Then encourage the child to cut between the two pieces. The resulting pieces can be made into a craft activity--butterflies, airplanes, etc.


  • Instead of having the children cut across a regular sized whole piece of paper, give them a smaller piece of paper and have them snip.


  • Try having the children cut playdough (Click here for tons of playdough recipes!) with the playdough scissors; it's a great scissor practice activity.

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